Becoming a parent is one of the most momentous moments in a person’s life. Whether you’ve dreamed of having a baby for years and are finally giving birth or just got pregnant by accident and found yourself in the delivery room nine months later, once that newborn is placed in your arms for the first time, your life will have changed forever. It’s an incredible moment, one that includes both the greatest joy and, in some unfortunate instances, incredible difficulty as well.
According to the CDC, birth defects occur in about three percent of all births in the United States, or one in about 33 newborns is born with a congenital disability. These numbers relate to genetic birth defects and those caused by a birth injury, such as cerebral palsy or other brain damage-related injuries. Sometimes, these birth injuries are caused by medical malpractice or negligence on the childbirth medical team. In those cases, new parents have to navigate two complicated worlds at once: learning to care for a tiny newborn and finding the strength to file a birth injury claim to receive fair compensation from those at fault for either the medical malpractice or negligence. It’s not easy, to say the least.
If you or someone you know is seeking advice on how to file a birth injury claim due to a medical professional’s malpractice, read on for the steps to take as they navigate this challenging time.
Get an attorney who understands local personal injury law.
The legal options available to you would be hard enough to deal with if you weren’t new parents, but if you just experienced childbirth, now is not the time to jump through legal hoops without the guidance of an attorney who knows what they’re doing. Personal injury law is a specialized area of the legal system, and birth injury cases fall within the purview of a personal injury claim. Great legal counsel will be able to walk you through all the steps of filing a claim, let you know what medical documentation to keep and when to show up in the courtroom. Make sure you find legal advice sooner rather than later before the statute of limitations runs out on your claim.
One thing to know is that the laws in this and other areas differ from state to state, so you should look for local counsel familiar with the state laws. For example, if you’re in Illinois, you should search for “Chicago birth injury lawyer” to find a birth injury attorney who can help you navigate the state laws in your area. Many personal injury attorneys provide a free consultation, so you can see with a few attorneys to see who you feel comfortable with. Find someone you won’t mind working with for a while, as it can take a long time to get the verdict on cases such as these.
Find mental health support.
Finding an attorney you want to work with is one part of the battle, but you can’t ignore your mental health needs either. If your sweet newborn has brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy or any other serious injury, you are sure to be facing some serious grief and stress. Don’t diminish the need to find a psychologist or counselor to help you through this time. Strengthening your own mental health will allow you to be there for your child more.
If traditional therapy doesn’t work for you due to COVID-19 restrictions or any other physical limitations, you should know that there are online therapy platforms that allow you to have a therapy session with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) counselor from the comfort of your own home. Online therapy, or teletherapy, is accepted and can be just as helpful in getting your support as face to face therapy would be. Moreover, a video session or phone call with a licensed therapist can address your specific needs while keeping you safe from any COVID-19 related risks. Video chats or phone calls are usually conducted over a dedicated mobile app to maintain your personal information safe. Finding a licensed therapist is a good idea if you’re going through a traumatic event like a birth injury incurred during the delivery process, so it’s good to look into all the options available to you. Don’t let the stigma against online therapy stand in the way of you getting the help you need.
Look for spiritual guidance.
If you’re religious, you may be facing a crisis in the wake of your child’s injury. There are some things even a professional therapist may not understand, and that’s how you relate to God after your child is injured in the birth canal. It’s hard to wrap your head around the reality that bad things happen to good people and reconcile your faith with the traumatic events that have just transpired.
The truth is, though, that religion can provide a great deal of solace to believers. If you believe in God and the word of the Bible, this is not the time to throw that belief by the wayside. On the contrary, it’s time to see how these words can guide you to a steadier pace in life. Maybe reach out to a pastor or priest you feel comfortable with, or see if your local spiritual leader is holding Zoom meetings. You should also know that you can find the NRSV bible online, with convenient translations that you can read on a smartphone or mobile device. Taking a few moments to read the holy words can ground you in your faith and help show you the way back to feeling better. Knowing you don’t need to leave the comfort of your home (especially in the age of COVID-19) to read the NRSV Bible can make this process that much easier.
Reach out to friends and family.
The birth of a child is challenging enough, and you should reach out to your friends and family when you’re expecting, regardless of birth injuries. That being said, your quality of life will change a whole lot more if you’re dealing with a lawsuit and learning to diaper your newborn at the same time.
It would be best if you had your people around you in real-time, every step of the way. This is no time to be shy about your needs—you’re managing a birth injury lawsuit, and you haven’t slept in months. Make a schedule with people who you trust to be COVID-19 safe and have them help you with laundry, cooking, going to the grocery store, and financial assistance, or even just holding the baby so that you can take a shower. Seeing your family and friends gaze into your baby’s face will warm your heart no end, and knowing that your people have your back even as you’re facing a particularly dark time will give you the strength to face the next day as it comes.
A birth injury is one of those things you never hope happens to you or someone you love, but, unfortunately, medical malpractice lawsuits occur all the time. By finding emotional support, a law firm you want to work with, and spiritual or familial support, you’ll be well on your way to facing this time and coming out stronger on the other side.